That’s important because word-of-mouth marketing is the most preferred source of information consumers use when making a decision. In fact, 83% of Americans have recommended a product or service to someone else, and half of Americans would choose online or offline WOM if they only had one source of information to rely on. Those stats are nothing to sneeze at. We’re also in an age where much of the populace values experiences over things. Before Marie Kondo encouraged us to thank our extra shoes for their service and clean out our closets, the experience economy began taking center stage, with a focus on events and travel over ‘accumulating things.’ Shared experiences build community, which we overwhelmingly crave. They are memorable. They give us a story to tell – and who doesn’t love a good story? A well-done experiential event weaves a brand into that narrative, fostering affinity, loyalty and advocacy. 82% of consumers say participating in experiential marketing is more engaging than other forms of marketing. So, give the people what they want!
With that in mind, when Buffalo Wings & Rings (BW&R) came to us asking for our recommendation on how to up the ante for the tailgaters at Cincinnati Bengals games at Paul Brown Stadium and incorporate the brand, we knew experiential and WOMM were the way to go.
Right On, Right On, Right On
It’s so important to find the right influencer to represent a brand for an experiential event – and that means looking beyond the follower count. Brands and agencies are shifting focus towards aligning an influencer to the brand more authentically, and the trend will shift to nano, micro or medium-level influencers who garner strong engagement, rather than the mega superstars who simply rack up impressions. I’m not saying reach isn’t important, but one honest, vocal influencer that lines up with a brand’s core audience, mission and content will resonate much more than a raw reach grab.
For our BW&R tailGREAT event, we needed an authentic influencer passionate about the brand that spoke to our audience, they’d love to interact real-time on-site and would inspire and motivate organic social posts. The reactions of fans and ample interest of the local media in our project proved we made the right choice with Bengals great Jim Breech. We gave fans a memorable story to tell – “remember when Jim Breech and Buffalo Wings & Rings crashed our tailgate?”
To the Internet… and Beyond!
A great experiential event is a lot of work to do well. It requires planning, organization, site checks, negotiations with vendors and a holistic vision – we all saw what happened at the (now infamous) Fyre Festival. More than that, it’s important to understand the complimenting elements that can extend or really knock an experiential event out of the park.
Don’t forget to record feedback during the event to gauge the effectiveness of your work. Technology and social media can also help track and amplify the experience, but it is important to reinforce your messaging with an element that goes forward after the event is over. A brand can also tap into the nostalgia of the shared experience and re-engage with participants, but it is savvy to forecast these details well in advance.
For tailGREAT, we instituted a mechanism to gather contact information from folks at the event. We also coordinated a sweepstakes giveaway with the Bengals, where people could experience their own tailGREAT at a local restaurant and be surprised by the Bengals and mascot Who Dey. We made sure to incorporate learnings from our first activation into the second, creating efficiencies and enhancing the experience even more for participants.
All in all, we crashed eight tailgates, gave out hundreds of fresh, never frozen wings and generated publicity value that far exceeded the out-of-pocket budget for the project. We reaped ample local coverage in radio, TV and print outlets (FOX, NBC, CBS and WLWT affiliates, WLW). BW&R fancied the moniker tailGREAT so much, they trademarked it and are seeking to replicate the activation in other markets. BW&R also awarded Empower its 2017 Marketing MVP Award at the end-of-season franchisee convention in June 2018, where the content we captured during the activation was used to encourage franchisees to show customers to not just tailgate, but tailGREAT with BW&R.